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2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Tommy Hanson

Could the former Braves' top prospect be an option for the Mets in 2014?

Stephen Dunn

Only a couple years ago, Tommy Hanson appeared to be the next great Braves starting pitcher, one who would torment the Mets for years to come. Prior the 2009 season, he was chosen by Baseball America as the game's fourth-best prospect and followed up on the hype by delivering 127.2 impressive major league innings that season with 8.2 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings.

Only a little over four years later, however, Hanson would be lucky if a team extended him a major league contract offer. Since 2009, the injury-riddled starter has watched his ERA and walk rate spike and average fastball velocity and strikeout rate drop. And in the last two seasons, Hanson has managed to throw 242.2 innings in between trips to the disabled list with an unflattering 5.42 ERA, 4.65 FIP, and 0.4 fWAR. Following the 2012 season, the Braves seemed convinced that Hanson's days in the spotlight could be coming to a close and decided to simply flip him for nothing more than a reliever, albeit a very solid one with an awesome delivery in Jordan Walden.

Hanson's drop in velocity would appear to be the root of his problems, and other pitchers have proven that a drop in velocity can be remedied. Taking a shot on Hanson on a minor league deal would not be costly to the Mets and could reap big rewards, however unlikely that might be. Additionally, since he was non-tendered by the Angels, whichever team signs him will hold his rights until 2016, if they so choose.

Worst case scenario: the Mets sign him to a minor league deal, which he rationally must be open to, and cut him when his shoulder falls apart again.

Reasonable scenario: Hanson and Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom, and any other minor league signings combine to throw respectable innings until Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero are ready to take over in June.

Best case scenario: Remember the last player who hit it big with the Mets off of a minor league contract? Okay, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

But why not take a chance?